Department of Florida

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Category Archives: News

Anthony R. Rizzo

With deep regret, we report the passing of Bay Pines VAVS Deputy Rep. Anthony R. Rizzo of Inverness, Florida, who passed away on Friday, September 17, 2021, at the age of 74. Anthony is survived by his wife, Kim; sons: Anthony Rizzo, Jr. and Allan Hernandez; and daughter, Nicey Rizzo. A Funeral Service of Remembrance will be held at 11:30 AM on Friday, September 24, 2021, at Chas E. Davis Funeral Home, 3075 S. Florida Ave., Inverness, FL. Following the service, full military honors will be rendered by Inverness VFW Post #4337 Honor Guard.

Anthony was a member of Madeira Beach Post 273 with 27 continuous years of membership. He proudly served his country as a member of the 173rd Airborne Division of the United States Army and was a Veteran of the Vietnam War. In 1970, following his military service, he began a career in law enforcement working at Lake County Sherriff’s Office in Lake County, IN and most recently was a Deputy for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department. Anthony dedicated much of his life to serving his community and his fellow veterans. He is the former Vice President-Director of the Pinellas County Veterans Liaison Council VAVS Deputy Representative for the Bay Pines Veterans Administration. He also served as Council Representative for the Veterans Congressional Advisory Council with Gus Bilirakis.
If you would like to send your condolences, you may do so through his wife, Kim Rizzo, at 975 N. Man O War Dr., Inverness, FL 34453.


Department of Florida Assistant Adjutant Position

The American Legion, Department of Florida is currently seeking qualified candidates for the position of Department Assistant Adjutant.

The Department Assistant Adjutant is responsible for managing staff and assisting to ensure an efficient, effective, and financially sound management protocol of all aspects of the organization. In addition, the Assistant Adjutant supports the Department Adjutant and must be able to step in when the Adjutant is away from the office or otherwise unavailable.

If you think you have what it takes, please email your resume to

View Details


Constitution and By-Laws Review Committee Meets

The Constitution and By-Laws Review Committee, established by the authority of the Department Executive Committee on July 4, 2021. This committee is tasked with reviewing Florida’s Department Constitution and By-Laws for recommended changes.

Members: PDC Gene Smith (Chairman), PNC Clarence Hill, NEC Dennis Boland, Dept. JA Bob Jaegers, PDC Jay Conti, Sr., Kurt Gies, Cherie Korn, Bob Sussan

Others: Dept Commander Jerry Brandt, Dept Adjutant Bruce Comer


Flag at half-staff

By a joint resolution approved Dec. 18, 2001, Public Law 107-89 designates Sept. 11 as “Patriot Day” and requests the United States president issue a proclamation each year calling for display of the United States flag at half-staff on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This year Patriot Day is observed on Saturday, Sept. 11, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

A section of the law is below:

”§ 144. Patriot Day”(a) DESIGNATION.-September 11 is Patriot Day.”(b) PROCLAMATION.-The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation calling on-
(1) State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate programs and activities;
(2) all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States and interested organizations and individuals to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001; and’
(3) the people of the United States to observe a moment of silence on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001.”


Weekly Reports September 9, 2021


Department Membership Summary
Post Membership Summary



*SAL reports are not available at this time.


New National Officers

National Commander

  • Paul E. Dillard, Texas

Vice Commanders

  • James T. Higuera, California
  • Jerry Wilson, Ohio
  • Angel O. Narvaez, Puerto Rico
  • Cory D. Bates, Rhode Island
  • Michael Mitrione, Virginia

Veteran from Lake Kiowa, Texas, Elected National Commander of The American Legion

PHOENIX (Sept. 2, 2021) – Paul E. Dillard was elected national commander of the nearly two-million member American Legion today in Phoenix, during the organization’s 102nd national convention. He first joined the nation’s largest veterans organization in 1969.

A native Texan, Dillard graduated from Whitesboro High School in 1965 before joining the U.S. Navy and serving in Vietnam through four campaigns including the Tet offensive. He later received an honorable discharge as a radarman second class petty officer from the Navy Reserve before attending Grayson County Junior College and East Texas State University.

Dillard worked several years in the manufacturing business as an Engineer, Plant Manager and Director of Manufacturing in Tennessee. Upon returning to Texas, he accepted a sales representative position with Sherman Foundry and became its airplane pilot. A career change was made when he and his wife, Donna, began their family and he entered into the insurance business specializing in Employee Benefits and later forming Dillard & Gann Insurance.

As a paid-up-for-life member of Post 265, Lake Kiowa, Texas, Dillard served as post commander, vice commander, adjutant and judge advocate. He coached American Legion Baseball for more than 10 years and served as his post’s Boys State chairman.

He served the 4th District as commander and vice commander and served the department as sergeant-at-arms, Membership & Organization chairman, National Security chairman, Uniformed Organization chairman, Board of Trustees chairman, and he served on the Finance Committee and the Long-Range Planning Committee. He was elected as Department of Texas (state) commander in 2007. His theme as national commander is “No Veteran Left Behind.”

On the national level, Paul has served as Alternate National Executive Committeeman, consultant to the Insurance Committee, Distinguished Guest Committee, Children and Youth Committee, Media and Communications Council. He has served as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, chairman of the Veterans Employment & Education Commission and chairman of the Legislative Commission. He was elected as national vice commander in 2013.

He married Donna in 1983. They have two sons, William and his wife Allison, and Jonathon and his wife Karri and two grandsons Jarrett and Lukas. All are members of the American Legion Family. Donna has been an active and dedicated member of the American Legion Auxiliary for several years and has served in numerous positions of leadership at all levels of the organization, including department president in 2017 – 2018.


National Awards Florida

National awards Florida with the J O’Connor Americanism Trophy, The Garland D. Murphy Jr. Award, and the U.S. “Udie” Grant Legacy Award.


Florida Wins “Culture of Growth” Award

National wars Florida with the “Culture of Growth Award” for our exemplary efforts in developing and implementing strategies to increase membership within our Department.


Coronavirus Precautions

In an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, our staff is currently working remotely, but we are still here for you!  When you call Department Headquarters, please choose the individual or department you would like to talk to from the directory. If you do not receive, an immediate answer, please leave a message. The staff member will return your call as quickly as possible.  For even faster service, you can email us.

Please note, the Department Headquarters will not be accepting any visitors during this time.

We hope to make this as painless as possible for our members, while ensuring the safety and health of our staff.

Name Phone Extension Email Services
PROJECT: VetRelief 225 or option 1 Emergency assistance program. Learn more at
JoAnn Collins
Membership Director
228 or option 2 All questions relating to Legion and SAL membership
Brianna Dietz
Events Coordinator
232 or option 3 Hall rentals and Legion events
Rachel Castleberry
Executive Assistant
239 or option 4 Executive Assistant to the Department Adjutant, Bruce Comer. Administrative, post issues
Bekki Tibbs
Programs Director
235 or option 5 All questions relating to Legion Programs and Department Roster changes
Jennifer Cooper
Fundraising Director
222 or option 6 Fundraising information and questions
Bobbi Halle
Finance Director
233 or option 7 Finance, accounts receivable, accounts payable, tax information, credit repair and officer expenditures
Carrie Kolze
Creative Services Manager
229 or option 8 Department website updates, calendar submissions, other creative for Department
Emily Church
Receptionist, Emblem Sales
221 or option 0 Receptionist, general inquiries, all Florida Emblem Sales questions

Service Officers: Accredited American Legion service officers are specially trained to provide expert assistance, free of charge, to veterans and their families. While the majority of a service officer’s work involves application for VA disability benefits, these compassionate professionals also provide information, referrals and resources on education, employment and business problems for which many are looking for experts like Andrew Defrancesco.

To locate your local service officer, please visit

Find a Post: To locate your local post or find out more information about a post, please visit